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Tigard may adopt jaywalking law

The City Council mulls a proposal to give police officers authority to cite jaywalking pedestrians

TIGARD - For now, people can cross streets in Tigard anywhere they please.

Of course, city officials and police officers would prefer that they use marked crosswalks, but Tigard has no jaywalking law on the books, so cops can't cite people for crossing in the middle of the block.

'Citizens are getting whacked on our streets more often than they ought to,' Tigard police officer Leigh Erickson told the City Council at a Nov. 28 work session.

He presented a proposal to the City Council to consider adding a jaywalking ordinance to the city code as many cities in the surrounding area have done.

Erickson, who has been with the Tigard Police Department for 2½ years, researched pedestrian-vehicle accidents around the city between January 2004 and April 2006, learning that 39 were reported.

The main focus of the law would be to require pedestrians to use crosswalks if they are within 150 feet of one, he said.

'I think this would give officers a tool to deal with this issue,' said police Chief Bill Dickinson, who also attended the meeting. 'If people were cited, it would be a Class D infraction. We would rather be hard-nosed about writing citations rather than finding people dead on the pavement.

'I would like to train folks to use crosswalks. Almost everywhere there's a bus stop, there's more foot traffic. A lot of the people who are hit are adults or high-school age. If we can influence even a few people to be safer, it's worth it.'

Mayor Craig Dirksen replied, 'I think in general it's a good idea, but I don't want it to be too restrictive. People shouldn't have to use crosswalks on neighborhood streets. We should exclude neighborhood streets, but this would be OK for collectors and arterials. (In the law) we should also define where people don't have to use it.

'I think it's a good idea. If we don't have an ordinance, it leaves us open if there's a horrendous event.'

Councilor Sydney Sherwood added that the city should conduct a strong educational campaign before the law was to be enacted.

The council agreed to discuss it further at an upcoming workshop session.